Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Great Horned Owl Nest...Minnesota

On Wednesday, 02-24-21, I went to another area in hopes of photographing a Great Horned Owl. Previously, I’ve been in this area 5 times and I’ve seen the Great Horned Owl three times, but I haven’t been able to photograph it.

This is an older stand of very large deciduous trees that is pretty open. I have a general area where I have seen the owl, but it always flies off before I’m even close to it.

Today, I got in this general area and once again I saw the owl fly off in the distance. I stopped and watched it land, then it immediately flew off again. I continued to watch and lost sight of the owl behind some trees way in the distance. I thought the owl must have landed in another tree or it continued flying directly away from me which was unlikely because it would have had to abruptly change course otherwise I should have seen it flying past the trees in the distance.

I started walking to the tree that I originally saw the owl fly from when out of the corner of my eye I saw an owl flying the other way. This was the opposite direction the first owl flew. It seemed to me that this was another owl based upon where it flew from which I don’t believe was the area where I lost sight of the first owl.

I continued walking toward the tree where I saw the first owl fly from when I noticed a large cavity in another large tree in the area where I lost sight of the first owl. That would explain why I didn’t see it continue flying after it got behind some other trees blocking my view. I glassed the cavity and could see a couple owl feathers inside.

I took a few photos from different angles with my long lens. The tree at the cavity is at least 2 feet in diameter. What I can’t tell is if the cavity drops down toward the back and a female owl could be on the nest or if the nest is the actual area that can be seen in the photos. If that’s the case I don’t see any eggs or an owl. One of the photos I counted six feather with the possibility of one more.  

Based upon what I saw today was if there was only one owl it wasn’t on the nest when I first saw it and if there was two owls then the first owl probably went inside the cavity and the second owl was probably the male that flew from another tree.

Now that I  have a possible nest site I don’t need to go back for awhile.

The Barred Owl...

 

On Tuesday, 02-23-21, I was back out walking the woods looking for the owls. Earlier in my walk I spotted the male Great Horned Owl, “Give a Hoot”. Just like yesterday I was by a large oak tree, so when I spotted him in the distance I slowly ducked behind the big oak tree. Again I was hoping to get my camera gear out of my backpack without him watching me. I fooled him yesterday and was able to get a few shots, but today he wasn’t going to be fooled again. Off he flew…
 
I knew the Barred Owl that I’ve photographed many times wouldn’t be in this immediate area where “Give a Hoot” was just perched so I continued on and checked the fringes of this area. Not finding the Barred Owl in several known areas I decided to walk home going out a different way. 
 
While walking out I spotted the Barred Owl perched in a tree a little higher up than I normally see it, but there it was sitting with its back to me. I could tell this is the same Barred Owl that I normally photograph because it didn’t bother to look around at me. I set up my tripod and attached my lens and camera in the spot where I found it. I took several images with its back to me. It felt like it was giving me the cold shoulder routine, since it had been 12 days since I last saw it. It still wouldn’t look my way.
 
I was glad to finally find it because the last time I found it it was right in the middle of the Great Horned Owl’s territory during the prolong cold part of the winter. I was happy to see that the male Great Horned Owl hadn’t eaten it. 
 
I finally moved my tripod more to the front of the owl. I only had a small branch free window to photograph it. After adjusting the tripod I finally got it where I needed it.
 
The area where I found the owl would possibility have some people coming by and I’m sure they would be curious on what I was photographing. In fact, during the 1 1/2 hours I spent with the owl some people walked up to me. One of them had a dog and you can tell which photograph I took while the owl watched the dog. The owl elongates its body and pulls its feathers close to its body trying to get as small as it can.
During my time with the owl I watched the owl regurgitate a pellet. I was putting on some gloves and missed the opportunity to turn on the video. I walked underneath the owl looking for the pellet, but couldn’t find it in the snow which also had some dead branches down on the ground. While underneath the owl I needed to look up to line it up to a spot on the ground. A few times I looked up the owl was looking back down at me. I’m sure it was wondering what I was up to now, but it quickly went back to being uninterested in what I was doing.
 
While back at my camera the owl started looking behind so I moved my tripod to near where I was initially was set up and got a couple more backside images. There are several similar images, but he’s so photogenic and where it was perched I wasn’t able to walk around it like I normally can do to get some shots from different angles.
 
Here are some of the images…
 

 








Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Great Horned Owl (male)

Here is a short video clip of "Give a Hoot", the male Great Horned Owl, from Monday, 02-22-21. Although, it's not the best video of him, it's the best I have of him so far. 



Monday, February 22, 2021

Great Horned Owl (male)

 

"Give a Hoot"...male Great Horned Owl
 
Today, 02-22-21, I went looking for the owls after staying away from the area over the week-end. I found the male Great Horned Owl, “Give a Hoot”, not far from where I found him a few days ago. 
 
I saw him in the distance perched in a large oak tree after I walked around another large oak tree. I immediately stopped and slowly walked backwards to place the oak tree in between me and “Give a Hoot” so I could get out my camera gear from my backpack without him actually seeing what I was doing. He certainly knew I was there, so I’m surprised he stuck around. 
 
When I had just about everything ready to go I slowly walked back toward him keeping the oak tree between us. I was able to set up the tripod with my camera to get some photos. I even lowered the tripod a couple feet in an attempted to remove the branch from the top of his head. These were the best pictures I could get today. Once I had enough pictures of him with the branch obstructing his feather tuffs I tried moving to a better location, but “Give a Hoot” wasn’t going to have any of that nonsense…off he went!
 
I feel I’m making progress with him. The last two times he’s stuck around long enough for me to get my camera gear set up for a couple shots. Maybe next time there won’t be any branches blocking his face/head.
 

 


Friday, February 19, 2021

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Great Horned Owl (male)... "Give a Hoot"

This afternoon I went out walking around the woods for 3 hours looking for the owls. These two images are of the male Great Horned Owl, who I call “Give a Hoot”. 
 
He was hiding in this tree where I’ve spotted him a few times in the past. Today I started looking at the tree while I was further away from it, since it was a week ago he flew from this same tree. I noticed that there seemed to be a bulge along one of the branches, so i glassed the tree and saw “Give a Hoot” backed right up next to the larger branch to its left. The way the branch attaches to the tree that he’s perched on I could only see about half his body.
 
I usually don’t get a chance to see him from a distance like today. Normally he’s off flying as soon as he thinks I’ve spotted him. I was lucky today since I was able to set up my tripod and attach my lens/camera. Although, once I got it set up he moved away from the larger branch, pooped, then flew off. 
 
I checked a few more areas for two different Barred Owls and the female GHO, but I didn’t find them.
During my walks I’ve been keeping an eye on an aspen tree that has some Pileated Woodpecker holes. I figure there was something living in the round hole because of the recent activity surrounding the hole. While walking toward the tree it looked like something was in the hole. I got out my binoculars and saw it was a squirrel. All I could see was about half of its head that was resting on both of his front feet while it was watching me. By the time I got set up to take a picture it must have other things to do. I waited for awhile to see if he would stick his head out again, but he never did.

 





Monday, February 15, 2021

I saw the male Great Horned Owl, "Give a Hoot" ...

 

I saw the male Great Horned Owl, "Give a Hoot" ...
 
I got out this afternoon to look for the owls. After not finding the Barred Owl in one of its known areas I decided to walk the area where I’ve previously seen the male Great Horned Owl, the female Great Horned Owl and last Thursday, the Barred Owl. 
 
I was kind of meandering when I looked up in a large oak tree and saw the male Great Horned Owl, “Give a Hoot”. I was close enough to him to be able to identify him without glassing him.
 
If you have read any of my other postings about him he doesn’t stick around very long. I didn’t even try removing my backpack to get my camera out, so instead I reached inside my front pants pocket for my GoPro and thought I turned it on and was recording video as he flew off to another part of the woods. I was going to post the video when I got home, but determined that the GoPro had turned on in my pocket, so when I took it out of my pocket I turned it off and after he flew off I started the GoPro again before putting it back in my pocket. I had lots of totally black/blank video with the sounds of me walking around in the woods. While walking around I heard the GoPro turn off while in my pocket when the battery was exhausted. 
 
The Barred Owl wasn’t going to be found in this part of the woods after the male GHO was perched there, so I walked about another half mile to where I know of another Barred Owl. I didn’t find him, but I saw two Pileated Woodpeckers. 
 
I continued to walk the woods for almost 3 hours, but I didn’t find anymore owls. When I walk the woods without stopping to photograph I'll walk between two to three miles with a 30 pound backpack. When I left the house it was -5F and when I got back home it was -6F.
 
Tomorrow I’ll probably head to another completely different area to look for another Great Horned Owl that I’ve seen a couple times, but I haven’t been able to photograph it yet.

Friday, February 12, 2021

Barred Owl Video...

Here is the video of my time spent with the Barred Owl yesterday...

 

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Barred Owl 02-11-21...

Today, I went to two different areas looking for owls. The first area I spent 1 3/4 hours looking for a Great Horned Owl, but didn’t find it. This was the fourth time in this particular area and I’ve seen it two times.
 
Since I started earlier than I normally do I decided to go back to my normal area to look for either a different GHO or the Barred Owl. 
 
It didn’t take long for the Barred Owl to find me. I didn’t see where it started flying from, but it flew directly toward me and landed about 10 yards away. I’m not sure if it missed me or not 🙂, but it had been 10 days since I last saw it. This is the Barred Owl that I’ve photographed several times in the past. 
 
Today I spent 2 1/2 hours with it. Here are some of the images…
 




 







Chuck

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Monday, February 8, 2021

ChuckRyanPhotography.com

 I started putting some of my wildlife images up on my website. So far I have added some owl and deer photos.

Chuck Ryan Photography 

 

Chuck

 

Saturday, February 6, 2021

The Barred Owl... Minnesota

 

The video from 02-01-21...

On Monday, 02-01-21, I went back into the woods where I’ve seen 4 different owls… two Great Horned Owls and two Barred Owls.

This video is of the Barred Owl that I’ve photographed several times in the past. There’s another Barred Owl about a quarter mile away that isn’t so cooperative.

This Barred Owl was actively hunting when I found it on my way way back from my furthest point on my owl walk. The owl wasn’t in the tree when I walked by the first time.

When I found it in the tree it was only about 10 yards away. I got my camera out of my backpack and attached my 500 mm lens and took some handheld shots before setting up my tripod.

Once I got my tripod set-up I began taking some video, then I walked away from the camera to see if there were any others good angles to get some photos. I watched the owl as it was intently listening to a vole or other rodent on the ground under the snow. It started to fly to the ground, but aborted its mission. It flew back into another tree a couple more yards closer to me. Now I was only about 8 yards away.

So now I couldn’t get the complete owl in the frame because he was so close. The owl snapped its head to its right and appeared it was listening to something in the distance. Then it flew 30 to 40 yards away and landed in the snow and I’m sure searching for his meal in the snow with its feet. The owl flew back up, but this time it didn’t appear it was successful.  It flew to another tree only a few feet off the ground, but now it was downhill of me.

I walked over with my camera on the tripod, but now I was shooting down hill from the side of a steep snow covered bank. I lower my tripod to about 3 1/2 feet to get the best angle without too many branches obstructing the view of the owl. I had to kneel in the snow to view the back of the camera. There was no way I could stay like that for very long before I had to stand back up. Now I had to keep bending over to view the back of the camera.

I took several video clips of the owl because it was still actively hunting hoping it would fly and get a vole.

Because I’ve spent so much time around this owl and the female Great Horned Owl I’m always  fascinated watching their behaviors. One such behavior is when they become very alert to possible dangers from above they will pull their feathers close to their body while elongating their body to make them less visible. This time it was with a crow flying overhead and it wasn’t making any sounds I could hear. The last time I saw this behavior with this owl wasn’t too long ago when it was relaxed, but it heard an eagle fly overhead behind it. The owl elongate its body and actually stepped around on the branch 180 degrees and followed the eagle until it passed. I’ve also witness this with the female Great Horned Owl.




I spent about an hour and a half watching the owl from  the side of the bank before I decided to finally pack it up because it looked like the owl wasn’t going to move around anymore. Recently, I spent over three hours with it and it was content to keep me company until it was completely dark outside.

When I walked back to my backpack to put my camera gear away I saw a vole or some small rodent running across the top of the snow where the Barred Owl was initially looking for a meal. I almost felt like yelling to the owl, “Over here!”

Friday, February 5, 2021

There’s “Give a Hoot” … there goes “Give a Hoot” (male Great Horned Owl)

T


This afternoon, Friday, 02-05-21 I went out looking for the owls. I took a chance and didn’t bring my snowshoes after the few inches of snow we recently got on top of what we already had and now with the drifting snow in the open areas.
 
The area where I knew I could use the snowshoes were going to be in the area where I recently found the female Great Horned Owl, “Hoot” after 39 days recently. When I got to that area I glassed the trees as best I could and didn’t see her so I continued on.
 
My next area I checked was where I’ve found a Barred Owl that I’ve photographed several times. I didn’t find it in this area, so I crossed into another area that I call Area B. I’ve found this Barred Owl in this area just a few days ago. The male Great Horned Owl hangs out in the area, also. When I didn’t find the Barred Owl there I knew of another Barred Owl about a quarter mile away. 
 
That Barred Owl doesn’t cooperate and sit still when I get in the area. It’s also harder to see it ahead of time because the trees have a denser canopy. That’s just what happened today I saw the owl fly from its perched and since I don’t have my camera out I didn't get any shots. 
 
Next, I moved closer to the tree line along a large marsh where I will sometimes find the male Great Horned Owl, “Give a Hoot”. I got back to the “winter crossing” to go back into Area A and guess who goes flying in front of me at a right angle.… it’s “Give a Hoot”. “Give a Hoot” doesn’t usually stay put very long. Luckily, he flew into a tree nearby so I got my camera and lens out. I didn’t bother to set up my tripod, because I knew he would be on the move shortly. The location where he flew from explains why I didn’t find the cooperative Barred Owl because the male GHO was perched there. 
 
He stayed long enough for me to get a couple shots while he was perched, then I got a couple more shots as he flew off.
 
I put my camera back in my backpack and headed for the area where I located the female GHO a couple days ago. I decided to trudge through the deep snow. It sure was slow going through the marsh to get close to her area. I mentioned last time the area isn’t a typical location where I would expect to find a GHO, but there are a few conifers. I glassed the spruce tree where I found her last time, but I didn’t see her.
 

 



Chucke a Hoot” … there goes “Give a Hoot”

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

“Hoot”… the female Great Horned Owl Update

 “Hoot”… the female Great Horned Owl Update

Since I found “Hoot” the female Great Horned Owl yesterday after 39 days I went back to the general area on snowshoes today. The area wasn’t the typical oak and maple trees where I would expect to find an owl, but there were a few conifers.

I glassed a few conifers, then one spruce tree in the distance caught my attention. I put my binoculars to my eyes and saw “Hoot” hiding behind some spruce needles and branches. I got out my camera, long lens and tripod from my backpack and took a couple shots.

Those two shots were going to be the best shots I would get today. The area where I found her was within 50 yards of where I found her yesterday.

Now I know for certain that’s she’s not sitting on any nest right now. Will she be soon…I have no idea. The female won’t nest every year.

Now that I know her new area I’ll have to go back later on and find her again, then sit and watch her from a distance to see what she does after she wakes up. I’m not planning to do it tonight although I may change my mind.

Her right eye is closed so I’m sure she has been roosting there since early this morning. I found her shortly after 1200 hrs.

I cropped this image a little but I was a fairly good distance from her. I was using my 500mm lens with my 1.4x teleconverter, so a 700mm shot.



Chuck

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

"Hoot" sighting... the female Great Horned Owl

 

“Hoot” sighting…
 
While out on my owl photowalk today, Tuesday, 02-02-21, I looked to my left and saw what I thought might be an owl in the distance. I looked through my binoculars and determined it was a Great Horned Owl and it sure looked like it was “Hoot” the female GHO that I’ve been looking for since 12-25-20. I was probably 70 yards away, but decided to get my camera gear out of my backpack to get some shots from this location. Once I set up the tripod I got some photos.
 
When I took a few photos from this distance I enlarged one of the images on the back of the camera and it was definitely “Hoot”. 
 
To get to the tree/area where she was located I had to go through the deep snow through a marsh which proved to be quite difficult, since I hadn’t been through this area before on my snowshoes. The next time I go out I’ll need to bring the snowshoes.
 
I got closer to the area, but lost sight of her while I was watching my footing so I thought she must have flew away. After looking for her for several minutes, I finally located her and was able to get a couple more photos. 
 
Next I was going to take some video of her, but when I looked down to adjust the camera / tripod she flew off without me noticing. I stood where I was and looked for several more minutes in the direction I figured she flew, but I didn’t see her. 
 
Packing up my gear back into the backpack I decided to see if I could find the Barred Owl, but while walking that way I really kept telling myself I needed to get back to where I saw “Hoot” and scan the area as best I could with my binoculars.
 
I walked to the area I found the Barred Owl yesterday and didn’t find it, so I headed back to look for “Hoot” some more. I found one very promising large nest very high up in a tree in the general area. I’ll keep an eye on that nest for any activity and I'll also continue to check the immediate area where “Hoot” was sighted. It’s been 39 days since I last saw her… These were the best images I could get of her today.
 
Edit: 02-03-21...
 
Yesterday, when I located “Hoot”, the female Great Horned Owl,  it was about 1340 hrs. My guess it was no more than 15 minutes from the time I saw her until she flew off. I certainly don’t know how long she was in that tree before I saw her.

I initially thought maybe she was hunting, but the way she was positioned on the branch wasn’t a typical perch for an unobstructed view and flight to grab a rodent on the ground for something to eat. This is based upon my prior observations of her.

The open marsh was where I was standing to get the closer photo of her. My thoughts are if she would have been hunting for food she would have been facing the direction toward me and in a tree closer to the edge of the marsh because there were other trees blocking her path to the ground. But again, I’m no owl!

I have read in the past, “ Females can incubate eggs in temperatures as low as -35 Degrees F ( -31 C) and eggs have been known to survive at -25 F (-31 C) for up to 20 minutes while the female takes a break from incubation duties!” The temperatures yesterday were fairly mild going from around 18 to 23 F.

Based upon finding her in this “newer” area I believe she is on a nest somewhere in the general area where I saw her.
 
 

 
Chuck

Monday, February 1, 2021

Squirrel Nest and Barred Owl...

 Squirrels Nest... before I found the Barred Owl I thought the only picture I would get today would be this squirrel nest. While looking for the owls I saw a squirrel with what I initially thought was a small dead rodent in its mouth. It was actually some leaves and grass that the squirrel didn't want to share with me. He was still adding to his nest. I watched as he ran up to this nest and went inside through the hole on the right. I waited to see if he would come back out so I could get a picture of him. When he didn't come back out I continued looking for the owls, but I made a stop on my way back.


This past week-end I checked out a completely new area for some Owls. On Saturday I saw a Barred Owl, but couldn’t get any photos. On Sunday I went back to that area but I didn’t find it.
 
Today, Monday, 02-01-21, I went back into the woods where I’ve seen 4 different owls… two Great Horned Owls and two Barred Owls. 
 
Today’s pictures are of the tolerant Barred Owl that I’ve photographed several times in the past. It was actively hunting when I found it on my way way back from my furthest point on my walk. The owl wasn’t in the tree where I found it when I went past the first time.
 
When I found it in the tree it was only about 10 yards away before aborting a landing on the ground for a meal. Now it was perched in another tree a couple yards closer to me.
 
The owl eventually flew off again and landed on the ground about 30 to 40 yards away in another attempt to get a meal. When it flew back up it didn’t appear it got anything. 
 
I was watching the owl for about 1 1/2 hours before I decided to leave. When I walked back to my backpack I saw a vole or some small rodent where the Barred Owl was initially looking for a meal when I first saw it. 
 
Here are today’s images…





 



Chuck